Children have different abilities when they start school and their teacher will help them progress at their own rate. They don’t need to be able to read, write or do sums before they start but encouraging their independence will help them feel confident and support them in their school environment. Bliss offers support to parents whose children were born prematurely as they continue to grow and start their school life.
You can work on mark making, letters and numbers with your child. When children start to learn to scribble and draw they try lots of different grasps and often change hands. Let them experiment; the most important thing at this stage is that they have fun. You may notice their mark making becomes more purposeful and their colouring neater. This helps them to hold a pencil correctly ready for developing handwriting at school. Your child can practise recognising numbers from one to ten. Can they find individual numbers on the telephone, remote control or clock? Do they know their own house number? BBC Teach have some great counting songs to help your child practise.
Helping your child acquire basic dressing and undressing skills will help them at school and make getting out in the mornings less stressful. There will also be help for your child at school, if they need it, with toileting, dressing and meal times but helping them do this themselves without your help will boost their self-esteem and confidence. Take small steps at first and ask your child to try to put their own socks on. Praise and encourage your child throughout and give them enough time to practise. Try and work on buttons, zips or other fastenings.
Children learn through play so it’s important to have fun whatever activities you do. Pacey and BBC Bitesize have lots of fun activities to help give children the confidence and skills to start school successfully and enjoy their first year.
Communication and social skills
Encourage your child to ask questions or for help from adults or their peers. You could practice greeting people by saying hello to their toy or dolly. Practice conversations by giving your child time to speak as well as getting them to wait and listen while others speak. Turn taking games such as snakes and ladders encourages children to wait their turn.
When your child starts school, their name will be on all of their belongings so it will be really beneficial to begin looking at the letters within your child’s own name. You could begin by putting your child’s name on their bedroom door so they familiarise themselves with it. If the whole name is too much for your child then you could concentrate on the first letter. You could begin by looking for the letter around your own home such as on food labels, magazines and books.
It is normal for your child to be apprehensive, worried or anxious about starting school or nursery. Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as fear or worry and is an understandable response to a significant change in their routine. If you notice that their worry or anxiety is affecting your child on a daily basis then you may need to seek professional support from your GP. For further information on anxiety disorders in children visit NHS inform.
You may be feeling different emotions about your child starting school. Congratulate yourself on all the hard work you have put into your child’s development throughout the early years and reflect on how much you and your child have accomplished. It is natural that you may feel anxious, but by promoting and encouraging your child’s independence on the months leading up to them starting school, it will allow you both to gain confidence for this next milestone.
- BBC – tips for starting school with your favourite CBeebies characters.
- BBC Bitesize – is free online study support resource for school-age pupils in the UK.
- Born to Move – Download for lots of useful tips to help you and your child be ready to start school confident and ready to learn.
- KELSI – is an online resource for education professionals in Kent.
- Kent County Council – find out more about applying for child’s school place at the website.
- Pacey – Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years is a charity and membership organisation based in London and working in England and Wales.